Wood I Never wins NCHA Derby

July 30th, 2007

Wood I Never and Clint Allen, co-champions of the NCHA Super Stakes, hit a 225-point grand slam last night to win the NCHA Derby for Wrigley Ranches, Weatherford, TX, and claim two jewels of the NCHA Triple Crown plus $75,000.

“I’m glad I didn’t have to share this one, not that I minded,” said Allen, referring to the Super Stakes, where he tied with Tag Rice and Copaspepto. Copaseto, who is recovering from an injury, did not compete in the NCHA Derby.

Allen (pictured with wife Michelle and 7-week-old daughters Kate and Addsion) was also reserve champion of the 2006 NCHA Futurity riding Hydrive Cat, owned at that time by Dave and Georgia Husby, clients of Wrigley Ranches.

Play Miss, shown by John Mitchell for Slate River Ranch, had set the standard in the Super Stakes with a dynamic 223-point performance midway through the first set of cattle. No appraoched Play Miss’s mark until Stylin Cat and Mark Michels posted 220.5 late in the second set, followed by Wood I Never and Clint Allen in the next-to-last spot.

“I had my lucky spot which is down deep,” noted Allen. “Normally I seem to do better last or next-to-last.” Wood I Never had worked two cows to a standstill, when Allen chipped a third with 25 seconds left on the clock.

“I didn’t know that cow, but I knew that she was fresh,” Allen said. “I knew I had to finish strong to have a shot at them, and it worked out.

“I couldn’t have asked my horse for any more,” he added. “She tried as hard as she could try and did her job. She’s got so much heart.”

Wrigley Ranches, owned by Phoenix-based businesswoman and attorney Julie Wrigley (pictured with Wood I Never), purchased Wood I Never, by Zack T Wood, as a 2-year-old from her breeder Dick Gaines. Wrigley had won the 2003 NCHA Futurity Amateur championship on her full brother Wood Ya Wanna, who won 12 championships and two reserves during his limited age career. Two weeks ago, Wood Ya Wanna carried Tarin Rice (riding with a broken leg and one stirrup) to win the NCHA Senior Youth Cutting with 229 points. 

“Clint has done a fabulous job,” said Wrigley of Allen, a native New Zealander, who is Wrigley Ranches’ resident trainer.

Wrigley, riding Wood I Never, had tied NCHA Derby Non-Pro champion Michelle Anderson with a cumulative score of 433 in the go-rounds of the NCHA Super Stakes Non-Pro division. She met had some hard luck on the mare in the Super Stakes Finals, but placed on two other horses – CD Graceful Dual and Sarah Dually.

Allen scored the first major win of his career in 2002, when he won the NCHA Futurity Open Limited championship riding Its Just About Me. Earlier that year, he had taken reserve in the NCHA Derby Open Limited aboard Co Zack, also sired by Zack T Wood. Allen  had also placed as reserve in the 2001 NCHA Futurity Open Limited riding Merada Clone.

John Mitchell was the only rider to qualify two horses for both the NCHA Open Derby and the NCHA Open Classic Challenge.

Mitchell, reserve champion and winner of $41,886 on Play Miss, also placed ninth and earned $22,785 more for Slate River Ranch on Smart Little Cooney. He was also reserve champion of the NCHA Classic Challenge with 226 points aboard Lynx Of Style, owned by Slate River Ranch, and placed on Squeaky Cat for Nelson and Suzanne Knight.

NCHA Non-Pro Derby

NCHA Super Stakes Limited Non-Pro champion Michelle Anderson (pictured with Cats Quixote Jack aka Spot) made a big move into the ranks of NCHA Non-Pro champions with a 221.5-point win on Cats Quixote Jack in the NCHA Derby Non-Pro division.

“I was a little bit nervous just trying to stay clean with my cows,” said Anderson, who drew midway through the second set of cattle, following a 220-point run by Matt Miller on Travs Scooter. “But my horse is trained and I feel really comfortable with him. He did his job.”

Anderson had ridden the High Brow Cat-sired stallion as champion of the NCHA Super Stakes Non-Pro Limited and was a finalist on him in the Derby Non-Pro Limited. Trainer Kory Pounds had been a go-round leader riding Cats Quixote Jack in Derby Open competition with a score of 220 points in the first round, but wasn’t able to advance to the Finals.

“Kory trains an incredible horse,” said Anderson. “He (Cats Quixote Jack) has been through a lot in this show. He had a bad first cow in the Open Sem-Finals and then he got hung up on his third cut. But he looked great.”

Anderson and her husband, Steve, purchased Cats Quixote Jack one week before the Super Stakes from his breeders, Andy and Karen Beckstein, Uniondale, IN. Pounds had trained the colt and ridden him as champion of the Bonanza Cutting.

Matt Miller, 23, Poolville, TX, was a go-round leader (1st and 3rd cumulative on Soda Rey Bay and Travs Scooter), and placed second aboard Travs Scooter in the Non-Pro Semi-Finals.

“That mare was just as gritty and mean as she can be and wasn’t going to let anything get past her,” said Miller of Travs Scooter, his NCHA Futurity Non-Pro champion.

Miller was equally pround of Soda Rey Bay, a gelding trained by Lloyd Cox that he purchased from Kix and Barbara Brooks’s Painted Springs Farm.

“I’ve never won anything on him, but he’s actually won more money than the mare,” said Miller. “He gets me in the finals every time and I usually finish pretty good.. He’s a horse that can win, it’s just never fit right, yet.”

Soda Rey Bay and Miller finished eight in the NCHA Derby Non-Pro to earn $12,343; Miller earned $14,886 for reserve on Travs Scooter.